A Waco man who threatened a woman and her 4-year-old daughter with a large Bowie-style knife and a machete during a 2016 drug-fueled home invasion was sentenced to 25 years in prison Monday.
Judge Ralph Strother of Waco’s 19th State District Court sent Kevin Wayne Tatum, 30, to prison after Tatum pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary of a habitation with intent to commit aggravated assault.
Prosecutors Barbara De Pena and Christi Hunting Horse had recommended 35-year prison terms in a plea offer that Tatum rejected. He chose to plead guilty with no plea bargain on the table and elected to have Strother assess his punishment.
At a sentencing hearing Monday, the prosecutors called the woman to the stand to describe how Tatum’s actions traumatized her and her daughter. She told the judge that Tatum deserved at least the 35 years offered to him.
Defense attorney Josh Tetens said that while voluntary intoxication is no defense or excuse, Tatum was battling a drug addiction at the time and was high on methamphetamine when he broke into the woman’s home in the 700 block of Lincoln City Road in April 2016. Tetens suggested a 20-year sentence for Tatum would be more appropriate, adding that Tatum, too, was traumatized as a young boy after witnessing his mother beaten with a bat and stabbed in a vicious assault.
Strother gave Tatum credit for the 991 days he has been jailed, which will be applied to the 12½ years he must serve in prison before he becomes eligible for parole.
The woman testified that she was cooking dinner for her young daughter when Tatum came barging into the home brandishing a large knife with a 12-inch blade. He jabbed the knife in her direction and took away her car keys and cell phone and told them not to move, she said.
“I felt a lot of fear,” the woman said in Spanish, testifying with the assistance of an interpreter. “I hugged my daughter and put aside my fear and tried to calm myself for the sake of my daughter. I tried to talk him down and tried to distract him, thinking of my daughter the whole time. I was trying to figure out how we were going to get out of this situation.”
The woman asked if Tatum was hungry and offered him food. She offered him the TV, telling him to take it and anything else and imploring him not to hurt her and her daughter.
She said Tatum was looking for someone named Jennifer. She told him she didn’t know that person. Tatum ransacked the house then went outside to look in a shed and workshop to see what he could take, the woman said.
She slipped out and used her daughter’s red jacket to flag down a man who worked at a plant across the street. Tatum returned with her husband’s machete he found in the shed and told them not to move. But they were able to run toward the man, who called police, and he helped them get away from Tatum, she said.
Tatum tried to leave in the woman’s truck after loading items from the home and shed, including personal papers, a guitar, two saddles, the machete and other items. Sheriff’s deputies arrested Tatum before he could flee.
Tatum testified briefly that he was high on methamphetamine at the time and was hearing voices. He said he is sorry he scared the woman and her daughter and never intended to harm them.